Catholic Action – In Memory Of
There's a video floating about online of Catholic Action performing their track The Shallows. Introducing the performance, frontman Chris McCrory shrugs, "It might be alright – you might like it, you might not. We don't care." It's the kind of insouciance you'd expect from a group cheeky enough to call themselves Catholic Action, and the statement seemed to typify the group's idiosyncratic approach to songwriting.
With their debut album a long time in the making, In Memory Of carried a hefty weight of expectation given Catholic Action's reputation as a Glasgow band-of-the-moment. And this time around, you can sense that McCrory and co care very much about what you think.
Classic Catholic Action tracks such as Breakfast, L.U.V, and The Shallows appear, sandwiched between a clutch of new songs that glisten with some extremely polished production work. Say Nothing is the first hit of the newer material, an upbeat experimental pop piece with layered with hand claps, wiggly guitar solos, and 'wuh-oh' vocals. Black and White follows, with downbeat lyrics – 'Black and white / But mostly black / Another day, another drag' – prettied up with a gently dancing bassline and McCrory's ascending vocals.
What stands out most about In Memory Of is how markedly Catholic Action have moved away from the kind of loping grunge of their earlier songs and charismatic live shows. This collection of songs pulls together plenty of radio-friendly tracks but there's an overall incohesiveness that extends to the mood and purpose of this debut. In Memory Of abounds with plenty of sugar-coated shadow boxing, but leaves no definitive sucker punch.
Listen to: The Shallows, Black and White, Stars and Stripes